Enforcing Fair Play

Way too many decades ago, when I was on the high school water polo team, we were having a 6-on-5 practice. I normally played goalie, but for the practice I was needed in the field. My field skills were average since I did not play outside the goal that much.

I was assigned to play defense against one of our better offensive players. I could see the gleam in his eye as he took his position next to me. He was soon disappointed when I made a couple of good defensive plays.

On the next play, he did some nasty stuff under the water and won that round. This was not a surprise because in water polo there is plenty of nasty stuff that goes on under the water. On a good day the referees will catch about half of it.

On the following play I returned the favor and won that round. My efforts earned me a dirty look. We traded nastiness and victories for the next two rounds. At the end of it my teammate told me to stop. I just smiled. When he played dirty again, I returned the favor on the next play.

He said, “I am warning you Joe, stop it.”

I said, “I’ll stop when you stop.”

We traded nastiness for two more rounds. When he realized I was serious, he decided he had had enough and stopped. We both played fairly for the rest of the practice. He won some, and I won some.

Republicans have been playing nasty for a long time. Democrats need to wake up and realize the Republicans have no intention of playing fair. It is time for Democrats to be every bit as tough and nasty as Republicans. Even though Democrats lost, they were right to make the Republicans invoke the nuclear option for Supreme Court nominees.

The GOP claimed that presidents could not make Supreme Court nominations during their last year in office. A huge pile left by a bull best symbolizes that argument. After Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested the ongoing investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia should delay the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said, “As long as he [Trump] is in office, he can exercise his constitutional power.” The GOP and Grassley denied Pres. Obama his constitutional right to “exercise his exercise his constitutional power” during his last year in office.

As E.J. Dionne Jr. explained, Republicans have engaged in a “long-term conservative effort to dominate the Supreme Court and turn it to the political objectives of the right.”

For way too long the Democrats have tried to play fair while Republicans used dirty tricks to promote their harmful policies. When you insist on denying climate change, when you refuse to require mandatory background checks on firearms, when you propose a health care bill that would cause millions of people to lose insurance, you are hurting your voters.

Democrats are finally saying I will stop when you stop, but until you do, I am going to be as nasty as you. Unfortunately, that is the only way to stop a bully.

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